Pope Francis will meet the families of hostages held in Gaza during his general audience on Wednesday November 22, 2023, the director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, confirmed on the evening of November 17. The Pope will meet separately with relatives of Palestinians suffering from the conflict in Gaza.
Pope Francis, who is been begging for a stop to the war in the Holy Land since the deadly Hamas raid on Israel on October 7, has stepped up his calls for the release of all hostages and then for a ceasefire in the region.
Supporting victims on both sides
By meeting separately with the Israeli families of hostages and those of Palestinian victims of the conflict, the Pope is making sure he supports the victims of violence on both sides.
“Through these meetings, which are of an exclusively humanitarian nature,” says Bruni in his press release, “the Pope wants to show his spiritual closeness to the suffering of all people, because, as he said at the end of last Sunday’s Angelus, ‘Every human being, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, of any people or religion, every human being is sacred, is precious in the eyes of God and has the right to live in peace.'”
Around 240 people are being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Nearly 1,200 people are thought to have died on the Israeli side in the October 7 attack perpetrated by the Islamist movement.
For its part, the Hamas government estimates that 12,000 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the war, including 5,000 children.
This Friday morning, on the sidelines of an event attended by I.MEDIA, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin stressed that “the release of the hostages [is] one of the fundamental points for the resolution” of the conflict in the Holy Land.
He also revealed that Vatican diplomacy was working at the time on the meeting between the Pope and families of the hostages. “We’re working on it, and we hope to be able to achieve it as soon as possible,” he said.